This Light of Mine

There have been times when I felt complete happiness. There, I said it. I have been jump for joy (or on a couch) giddy over life and being alive. It is like that at times there is a crack in the concrete mixture of all that is in my mind that keeps me muddled and weighed down, and some light peers in and I get IT. Like walking into a house which is completely dark and room by room a switch is turned and all at once I see the room and everything in it.  I believe one day I will see the entire house and will forever live in IT. I can imagine an existence of unbridled joy, contentment and happiness because I have tasted them all separately and at once. Is getting life right being able to live in that lighted house, or at least knowing where the switches are? I guess I am wondering if we can have some of Heaven on Earth.

Recently  I read Proof of Heaven and Dying to be Me. Both books relate NDE, Near-Death Experiences. One by a neurosurgeon whose brain was incapable of firing off hallucinations in any sense, literally, and the latter book by a woman who went into the hospital after battling four years of cancer, with lemon size tumors in every lymph node  in her body. Both people made full recoveries, both people have the medical community’s attention. I am drawn to these stories because, at 52, I see the stop sign up ahead. Life is finite. There is an end here. Because of that thought, which by the way jolted me awake quite a many nights two years ago (thank you menopause) I realized that there is no luxury of time to make major mistakes, and veering off my path too far is a waste of precious time. With age there should be a cache of knowledge to help with all the next steps. I have found that life’s climb is getting steeper, the steps closer together and the summit, a beautiful point in the future with the past a marvel to take a moment to gaze upon and point at all of the landscape of experience. Falling off now would be such a waste of time.

Decisions of where to plant the next step should be calculated yet easy enough. Skilled scaling, such as life.

Both Dr. Alexander and Anita Moorjani made full recoveries after experiencing existence without cellular constraints. It is their after after-life thoughts I found most enlightening, and thanks to the amazing writing of Moorjani, I was able to see a new room in my house. Happiness, contentment and joy: the happiness trinity can be experienced beyond a moment. I was enlightened to another step towards how to love myself, which is a tall order here on earth. We are implored to love one another, but that is hard of we don’t know how to love ourselves. Then there is that word, ‘love’ that gets in the way of the mountaintop. I work with too many young people who have lived a life that has taught them that love is painful, so they are shackled and their climb through life is restrained and slow.

Stuart Smalley

Stuart Smalley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In learning how to love myself, I am free to love others, and with that comes joy and without the fear that is yoked to judgement of myself, I am living with lengthened moments of contentment. I feel a bit like a Stuart Smalley, but I believe I am good enough and doggone it, people like me. That happens when I like me- but the first step was to trust my own judgement of myself without judgement. That sentence used to be as confusing to me as “the greatest of these is love.”

Happiness isn’t really a light coming to us from the outside.

 

It isn’t a crack letting the light in, it is within us. When we crack open we let our light shine; we are made to beam from the inside out. I found that when I am beaming, love pours out. It is a rush to imagine what it would feel like to have more than a crack of light. I think in death we break open, but we have the opportunity to do that in life. I believe that is why there are so many self-help books. We are drawn towards happiness, joy and contentment. It is the essence of our existence.

At the summit of my life I know I will breathe in the freedom of loving myself.  With that comes immense love for others, because a light on a hill cannot be hid!

Thank you , Jesus!

The good, the bad and the ugly

Which do you want first? The good news or the bad news?

I was asked this a few years back when I was having my home refurbished. The contractor asked me these questions. I opted for the bad news first because I wanted to end the news on a more positive note. The bad news that day was my ceiling was caving in. The good news was, he could fix it. I knew a ceiling couldn’t be healthy when the darned thing was curved…downward…and what looked like dry hay was creeping from the corner.

The end result was I had a beautiful home, shiny, updated and strong from the foundation to the roof. And it all came at a price. The dollars, time and being forced to live in a spot in one room for several months was difficult at times. I felt discombobulated. My ground chakra had no wiring. The mess before the unveiling put me outside of my comfort zone for a few months, but in the end I was more comfortable and ultimately happier. I remember standing in that home and looking all around and marveling that I was in the same space but not in the same space.

Before the construction could begin the deconstruction had to happen. The discomfort had to happen. The inner exchange, the daily negotiations changed, which had to happen. Re-modeling a home is a lot like remodeling a life. The bad news is some areas of my life are caving in, but the good news is…I can fix it.

That good news is really good news! Have you ever been in the company of someone who is actively living and making choices to better themselves? If not, then you really should begin your reconstruction with your circle of friends and acquaintances. Sure, the person who is listening to Zig Ziegler for the thousandth time and is telling you how wonderful life is and on top of that they actually lost weight during the holidays can be challenging to one’s psyche especially if one just bought a size larger pair of jeans because of the holidays and one has no idea who Zig is other than the papers used to roll Cigs. It is so easy, so natural to continue in your own flow even if the flow drops into no-man’s land, where nothing grows and nothing new ever happens.

How does one re-model their life? Which walls come down, which rooms are re-utilize and what is the new decor? The bad news is that all those choices should be chosen by you and no one else. The good news is all those choices should be chosen by you and no one else!

Commercials are on overdrive for weight loss products and clinics and shots and suctions. I often wish I could have a constant companion telling what to do, what to eat and to knock the food right out of my hands if I am over calorie budget for the day. I often wish I had someone there to insist I go to the gym, pick out the right clothes, point out that I need to meditate. And, yes, I know that I am my own constant companion, and that is where things turn ugly!

Being our own contractors is challenging, but finding the answers to the problems needing to be solved, such as a ceiling that is caving in, is the stuff of life. We must be careful who we chose to help us, which tools to use and in the end the price paid. Change is never easy, change is ever constant and change can be extremely uncomfortable.

But in the end, it is all worth the new digs.

If It Makes You Happy

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English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

English: Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy is subjective isn’t it?  Two people at the same water park may be having two totally different reactions to the new super-loop water-slide. Or how about news about weather? My sister is happiest at 50 degrees or less, dark clouds and rain. I am happiest when the air outside is in the seventies or eighties, and the sky is blue and the clouds are white and bright. It is all a matter of degrees, too, when it comes to how we feel and how we express our joy. In the make-up of the chemical soup that pulses through our bodies, happiness and joy imprint on the cellular level, right along with sadness and grief. Could it be true we can be addicted to seeking more happiness, more joy so we can keep our spirits riding high or more drama to ensure we stay bitter and cloaked in a depressive state? Even more importantly, do we choose to stay sad because that is what feels right? I choose happy, and it has been a struggle to see life through half-full eyes. Practice makes perfect, and as Malcolm Gladwell pointed out; if we do something about 10,000 times we become masters at that something. With thoughts rolling in every millisecond, could I get to that 10,000 before the day is over?

I see the gravitation toward drama and sadness a lot in my line of work. The same people report the same negative messes on a regular basis. Like a heat seeking missile, these people tend to make relationships with those who will, without a doubt, keep them feeling bad about themselves. Or, if the days are going well, they freak out with the foreign feelings of joy and life being more than shadowy doubt. And, like an addict, will ingest sadness in huge quantities to meet their need to be back in their dungeon where they are safe and know where all the torture equipment is placed.

The good advice I have received most of my life meant nothing. I was told as a teenager by step-mummy, that I wear my feelings on my sleeve and that was not good. What? And…..what? I didn’t understand that other than it was a criticism and I had no idea how to fix it if it needed fixing. Maybe she meant I was sensitive. Sensitivity is okay and a normal human thing like awareness of others’ feelings. What if she had said that to me? I could have put it to better use at a much earlier age! My favorite advice has been “let IT go!” Now, I KNOW it means to stop thinking about the IT, keep away from the IT, stop talking about the IT and pushing the IT completely out of my life. IT usually won because 10,000 thoughts made me master to IT, and unlearning what I mastered just isn’t as easy as “let IT go” sounds.

My happy may not look like any other person’s happy and that is super okay. But, I can honestly report that being happy is my goal, and because that has been my life’s journey, I am becoming.

I can also report, becoming has been awesome.

Seeing the past through ‘becoming’ eyes has taken the negative emotion out of my journey; my life as mapped out by all that was and is. ‘Becoming’ eyes have given me the joy I always sought. ‘Becoming’ eyes have given me sight that has finally allowed me to forgive. Breathing in is much more nourishing than it used to be.

The cards I was dealt early in my life sucked, and that little girl deserves honor and respect with what she did with it! A pat on the back and acknowledgement that those cards were my tools to build me. I am fascinated at what builders use in homes, or those unusual homes made of unusual materials. I am reminded of the man who built a coral home in honor of his true-love, or homes made from tires, or how about those homes reconstructed from missile silos? My material, my tools, made a pretty amazing person.

All of us must use what we are dealt, then life goes on and what we do with our ‘hand’ is totally up to us.

I wish to be a master of joy, gratitude, and of my life in general. It is with joy I write this and gratitude toward those who read it, or those who do not. Master of my own life means joy is settled in and at home in my soul. When sadness and grief do come knocking, and in life it will, they may come to visit, but they may not stay.

This is my house!

Less Judgement, More Joy!

"All You Need is Love" (The Beatles)

“All You Need is Love” (The Beatles) (Photo credit: Akinini.com)

I recently read Dying To Be Me by Anita Moorjani and after I read the book I felt elated and light as though I was walking three feet in the air. Joy is the helium of the soul! This particular joyful feeling came from eliminating what was holding me down: self-judgment. It was an alien feeling to recognize the essence of who I am, and maybe for the first time feel a love for myself. In my Baptist roots, I was told I was unworthy and ‘as a filthy rag’ to God. That was easy to relate with as I indeed felt that was a perfect description of me, myself and I; the unholy trinity. Once I was working with a man who boasted that his daughter came to him one day and said that she realized how unworthy she was. He was so very proud! Sitting there. listening to this, I was sickened in my heart because I knew that feeling and I wanted to run and find her and tell her how worthy she really is to God, and save her the agony of self-loathing. I imagined her dad and Jesus in the same corner of her mind telling her to take her beating in life because she deserved nothing more. I always questioned the logic in being unworthy yet worthy of a death on the cross, or of our Maker numbering the hairs on my head. My filthy rags end up in the trash. Sigh.

One of the lines I used to lighten my load was to tell people that I prayed to Jesus to stop all the persecutions in my life because I had enough character! If trials build character, I was bigger than life! Alright already!

Moorjani’s words were read at the right time. Nothing in my life has ever been revealed without some kind of preparatory excavation. True, sometimes revelations have come to me with little digging, but I have learned the heart and soul have to be ready for divine planting. Yes, hard hearts are cold and dry and truth ricochets off it like a be-bee on a wall. Thus, character is born, pocked with myriad be-bee marks! I got her message. I really understood the energy and beauty behind her book! Could I have had a breakthrough in my quest to love myself? And, was it okay to love myself? Paying attention to all that I said to myself and the thoughts that ran amuck in my mind, I realized I was my own enemy number one.

How could I expect others to recognize I was a good person if I didn’t recognize it? I felt I was introduced to this wonderful woman who has a great heart, a desire to help others and a fun spirit. Finally, I met my best friend! She was with me all this time! She was me!

For the next few days after my satori I smiled a lot. I mean, a lot! I noticed when I spoke to people they responded to me I imagine in the way I was interacting with them…with love. It was awesome during this honeymoon stage of loving myself. I just KNEW I was full of all of this love and I just wanted to share moments with others, intermingle with other souls. Spiritually hug everyone I came into contact with because actually hugging everyone may not have worked as well! “Hello, state hospital, we have someone here who needs a straight-jacket.” When I was at my highest, I truly had pulsing joy. It felt clean, healing, pure. In this state I was able to love others with no roadblocks. My heart was opened and unlike a hardened heart, absorbed the nutritious smiles and love of others in a way I had not experienced before.

The book did not do this TO me, I was ready. I had set my body and mind in motion for years to understand what it meant to really love myself, being it seemed the answer to so many of my dilemmas. I was ready to hear it and be it. Like road construction, I had worked to pave my way starting from a place where there was once no trail, onto the highway of understanding. I could now proceed with my life at higher speeds! Love myself? Check. Love others? Check. Where did this love come from? God? Check!

Why the past tense? I WAS in such a joyous state and it did last for days. I have not fallen backward but life is life and when I am at work or making dinner ,joy maintenance is on hold. I am still learning, still growing, still traveling forward. I have to consciously put my judgmental thoughts away. I am much more aware of them now, and they are really ugly and hurtful and mean. I was the ultimate mean-girl to myself! It is a really hard task to pay attention to all the dark things we say to ourselves, but this task is necessary. I wonder, if while reading this you said a few choice things about me or you that surprised yourself? Recognition is an ingredient in the recipe for self-love. Once you have it, judgement and vicious attacks on yourself and others subside. It is a much easier way to live.

Recently, in an attempt to hurt me, a person said, “No one here likes you,”  Well, I knew they were lieing. It was astonishing to me that they felt that spewing out this hatred would effect me. As I looked into their eyes, I noticed how blank they were. Steely. Black. Sick. I remember taking in a breath and releasing my tension. This is where sickness is born. These vile words lived in their owner and I am sure they are brewing up nothing good. The words had no power over me. Man, I wished I could have helped them see how what they were doing was not hurting me at all, but hurting them! Remember the hard heart with be-bee marks?

If your challenge is loving yourself, keep excavating. I wish it was as easy as waking up one day and making that choice to love.  Maybe that is our biggest job as parents, to teach our children this trick and you know you have taught them right when they easily love and respect others.

Is 52 a bit old to finally get the message? Am I a late bloomer? Maybe, but at least I bloomed! And I am a perennial!

 

Hypocrisy for Dummies

When I was 21, I visited a Baptist church on a Wednesday night which happened to be their annual budget meeting. Luck of the draw. My main reason for not attending church was I had been scared away at the age of fifteen after being locked in a room with five people insisting I pray in tongues and when I left the room that day I was gifted with a book of tithing envelopes. So much wrong with that picture.

When I finally sat my behind in a pew, it was the perfect night. I learned why the tithe was important and I didn’t feel so threatened with the message after the budget meeting.

I attended that church for a while, found my husband, had a baby and became a member of the choir. I tithed. I prayed, I learned as a much as I could, as often as I could. I proudly defended my place on the front-lines of the pew sitters! As a new believer I really did see the world in right/wrong with no in-betweens! No grays! No wavering!

And not much love. Not for me, nor for most.

But, the greatest of these is love! If we have not love, we have nothing.

So many in the church have been targeted as hypocrites. The saying is, “Church is where they should be then!” Hypocrisy is, and this is direct from the dictionary: the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense. As the finger points and proclaims “HYPOCRITE” the emotion behind it  is usually one of hurt or anger. Much is expected of the Sunday crowd. Sure, we expect the offer of a ride to church, supper after sometimes, a gift of the Holy Word itself, but I propose the main expectation of that finger: they are outing the believer for being without love.

God’s Love.

We all fall short! Sure we do! But I now believe after a pretty long and interesting stroll with my Savior that if we focus on that Love issue and begin to really get that right, so much falls into place. God wants us to love ourselves because well, He does, and the whole unworthy crap we hear from the angry pulpit spitters is a horrible control tool used to enhance coffers, not hearts. If we were really that unworthy, the cross thing never would have gone down the way it did! Back to Love. God is Love. Tap into that source and it is a life changer.

Our thoughts, our connection to Spirit, is muddled with so much muck and disgusting self-loathing, how can we expect to view our fellow fellows in any way other than with the eyes of someone unable to see. Hence the song lyric, “was blind but now I see.” Diving deeper, blind means the focus is all wrong, the direction of the gaze is all wrong and the reason for looking all wrong. It is like running a race and crossing a finish line that wasn’t even your race!

“You hypocrite! You have it all wrong!” The finger pointer is saying. “You don’t love me! I don’t see it in your eyes! I don’t feel it in my heart! You are cold, judgmental and elevated and it makes me so damn mad at you!”

We all fall short, but are we suppose to fall flat ALL the time?

Loving isn’t easy is it? Just read any political Facebook thread and we find the ugly real quick. Tapping into God can free anyone from self-hatred which then projects toward others as this flow of amazing love energy. Most of us who have occupied a pew have come across this love in a parishioner or two. Noted in their eyes, their warm demeanor, their acceptance of others with a smile and graciousness. Yeah they exist and yeah, you can sometimes find them in church!

Not too long ago I was treated, in my opinion, as if I was a “less-than creature” not worthy of this person’s time, smile, or a drop of warmth. Then I found out this person is a preacher. And preaches. Every Sunday.

Ah, the Hypocrite lives and yet, so does Love. I chose Love. May I have His eyes, heart and soul energy no matter the matter. I will fall short, but I have been blessed to have been enveloped in His love….

Every time I let Him in!

MOB: Mother of the Bride

wedding

Holding the office of MOB, Mother of the Bride, can be a navigational nightmare! Just watch a few Say Yes to the Dress episodes and you are sure to see a few MOBs who are tripping all over their daughter’s moments. I have been a MOB twice, and both times, if I was caught unaware one may have seen in the visage kaleidoscope  a deer in the headlights look of fear, contemplation, love, sadness, pride, reservation, honor, and did I mention love? Oh yes, I did!

My first MOB experience was in 2009. My daughter actually came home to me for a month prior to her wedding. We did fun stuff like go to the gym and shopping. After she was married and whisked off on her honeymoon then new home I was alone again, and re-vistited empty nest syndrome which hurts like hell. Her mantra to me was her marriage was her moment- something she had dreamed of and was now creating. The reality is it is a chore to create the magical moment of I dos.

I remember watching her walk down the isle; though she was walking with her father I felt as if I was beside her, so surreal to see my baby in her gown, radiant and ready! I watched her the entire night: dancing, laughing, enjoying the event so well planned and executed. I learned, being MOB meant letting your daughter shine and never taking one inch of her light unless she pulls you in. There is so much going on at a wedding but the bottom line is that it is a celebration of the couple, not anyone else.

I felt the same way during my second daughter’s wedding. It was her moment, her time. Even when she said yes to her dress, I made sure not to give negative feedback, and to help fan each positive moment. My oldest daughter had given me the Wedding Dress Shopping Rules…I was NOT to make faces, comment when not asked and to keep it positive. When she came out in a dress I did not like, my facial expression betrayed me and my daughter became anxious. I promised her I saw the beauty in the dress! She didn’t buy it. I had to work on my game face!

When she came out wearing THE dress I forgot all the rules and sprang up from the velvet couch and teared up due to how magical she looked! She began to cry and I asked if I had made a mistake in liking the dress a little too much to daughter number 1. I was assured that my behavior was just fine and the moment was as it should have been! Whew!

During the second MOB experience I marveled that I was so blessed to have this moment a second time; I was experiencing magic! I again felt as though I was beside her all night- I watched her as I had her sister, I caught almost every smile, tear and look of love. I saw her interact with her friends, new family members, old family members and her husband. I felt her love all night.

When I left the reception I was accompanied by the bride and her husband. We took a tram to our rooms so we could change and go back for more festivities. My daughter said to me that she hadn’t seen me, she missed me and wondered why I was so quiet. I looked at her and reminded her that I was the one who helped put her dress on earlier that day then stayed with her until the last moment before her father walked her down the isle. I was one of the first to hold her after she had said I do and before the pictures were taken. And, as it was with her sister, I watched her the entire night, taking in her laughter, tears of joy and sheer excitement of a dream come true.

Being a MOB has been such a wonderful experience and for anyone who needs a little help from those of us who have been there just remember, it is all about them, and not about you.

Work that truth and the rewards will be that you will experience the love and magic of their moment cleanly and joyfully! And that is worth it!

My Mother’s Gift

Mom furrowed her brows, pointed her finger at me and gave me her last words, “You little shit. I wished I would have never had YOU!” Her finger, pointed directly at my face, withdrew and she sneered at me in anger. My mother was lying on a hospital gurney waiting to be rolled into another room for another test. She was dying of cancer: it had spread all over her body into every major organ including her brain.

Knowing I would never see her again, I had asked her if there was anything she would like to say to me, she looked over at me, at first her expressionless gaze made me wonder if she even heard me. “I am leaving, mom. Is there anything you want to tell me before I go? We will never see each other again,” I repeated a little bit louder.

“Wow, Mom,” was all I could utter. I stood there staring at her, so I added what I was really thinking, “There went my Movie of the Week moment!” The scene I had imagined is that my mother would apologize for abandoning me and tell me she loved me. I cry, mom cries, the audience cries. Scene fades to black. Neither one of us cried, we just stared at one another. As the nurse pushed her down the hall, I stood in the same spot, taking in that last moment with my mother. I was not surprised she chose to attack me. It was her pattern which I rebelled against at a very young age. I was an angry young woman trying to get life right after so many wrongs. I was carrying a lot of excessive emotional baggage from my upbringing or lack of upbringing.

Our family imploded when my parents divorced. I was nine years old. My father had an affair and my mother refused to forgive him. When he left he married his mistress, and my mother started her descent into reclusive darkness. She was emotionally unstable and violent. Her health deteriorated along with her mind due to multiple strokes. Her face, already aging into a permanent frown, was distorted. I was in the sixth grade when my brother died on his sixteenth birthday. My mother lost herself, and she completely stopped caring for me.

One morning before school I went into her bedroom crying. She was in her usual spot: the right side of her bed, lying on her side, covers over her head. I was in the seventh grade and I told her I had nothing to wear. She pointed to her closet and told me to pick something from there. In 1972, a young girl didn’t look normal wearing her mother’s clothes. I found a skirt I hoped would work and then I went to my closet and sat down. I looked up and began sobbing as I looked at all the empty hangers. I literally had no clothes.

Mother did get food stamps so I was able to eat lunch at school for free. It was the most food I would have every day. I learned to do my own laundry; I cleaned the house and mowed the yard. Mom kicked me out of her house at the age of fourteen. I came back for a few months but left in fear she was going to hurt me while I slept. I had caught her about to burn me on a Saturday morning. I left that morning and didn’t see her for 6 years. She left me in San Antonio when she moved to Pennsylvania without a forwarding address. I heard the joke, you know the one where parents move away when their children enter their teen years and fail to tell their kids where they went. No one does that right? Alone in San Antonio, friends opened their homes. I survived. No one ever called an agency to report a young girl living all alone, or with families. I tend to think I was blessed so many families took me in and that “the village” saw me through!

I remember the call from my sister. It was a big surprise as my family was in Germany and one phone call could cost one hundred dollars within minutes. My husband was in the Army, we had two beautiful little girls ages three and four. Gail told me my mother was dying and she had asked to see my daughters. She had only seen my oldest a few times and had never met the youngest. I was perplexed she asked to see the girls as she had held no interest in my family, or me ever.

The Army will fly a family to the United States in certain situations, one being illness of a close relative if life threatening. I had a choice: Go and see her while she was alive. Go for the funeral. Do not go.

I opted to see her while she was alive.

We were flown to the nearest airport, which was in Manassas, Virginia. My father picked us up at the airport, a long drive from Louisville, Kentucky and we made the arduous trip to San Antonio, Texas where Mom had returned after a six-year hiatus up north.

My father walked into her room first. We gave him a moment with her and when we entered he was sobbing, and she just laid there staring at him. My mother had been a beautiful bride, but life ravaged her and left a twisted shell. Her struggles and illnesses destroyed her outer beauty. Her face was distorted from multiple strokes, her teeth were gone and she struggled with her speech. My daughters came up behind their grandfather and my mother sat up to see them. “Oh, h-h-ow n-nice,” she stammered. That was it; grandmother bonding was over. I sat down next to her and my father. His face red from emotion, he looked over at me and said, “She looks like you, Jane. She has your hair.” My mother replied clearly, “Beautiful.”

As if I needed to throw-up I ran out of the room. My tears came from such a deep part of my soul, they almost hurt. My mother and father had NEVER talked about me like that before. After I pulled myself together, I went back in the room. The conversation turned to my mother and what was going to happen within the next few days. She needed a place to die. I was the youngest, but I was the only one that acted on getting her a nursing home, doctor and ambulance to her final destination. Mom knew I was the one who arranged her transport. She had always told us kids that she did NOT want to EVER end up in a nursing home! However, there was no alternative: she needed 24 hour care, and none of us was in the position to create a hospice environment in our homes.

Three weeks after we returned to Germany the Red Cross contacted my husband. He was a busy man and forgot to tell me the news of Mom’s death for two and a half days. While sitting on his chair, eating a bowl of cereal, he remembered, “Kim,” he said talking with his mouth full of Cheerios, “I forgot to tell you, your mother didn’t make it.” He took another big bite of cereal. I said, “Didn’t MAKE it? What are you saying?”

“She’s dead.”

“Oh.”

I got up and left for our room. I turned and asked him to watch the girls; I needed some time alone. I had no idea that her passing would hurt so much. There was that cry again. I ached, I mourned, I rolled up in a ball and wished for my mommy. I guess I had wished that all of my life, and with her alive there was hope that one day she would show up. I guess I was mourning my hope. I spent two nights in my room, alone, crying and confused as to why her death had the impact on me that it was having.

The second night of mourning was the same as the first. I was so broken and I kept hearing her last words to me. When asleep that night I was told to wake up. I looked up and there she was. Like the angels in the popular show, Touched by an Angel, she glowed. Her hair was soft and full of light. Her face was beautiful, flawless, and glowing, and from pictures of her youth I would say she was in her late twenties or at the most 30. She was wearing a blue dress. I sat up in bed and touched her face. Her face was so kind, so full of love. “I came to tell you I am sorry and that I love you now the way I should have loved you. I am perfect now; my love is perfect. I will be with you always.” Then she held me. There was that cry again; this time not so painful, healing waters were mixing with my emotional pollution.

I was sitting up in bed. She was gone, and I immediately woke up my husband. “She was here!” I cried, “She was here!” I told him everything. “I think she knew she really hurt me with her last words and God let her come back to tell me she was sorry!” My husband told me I was dreaming, rolled back over and continued to sleep. In the morning I woke up feeling excited and happy. I then began to question the vision. It seemed real. Stinking thinking took over. It didn’t happen I concluded.

My husband came home at noon with the day’s mail. I received a letter from my father’s wife. She had sent a page torn out of The Daily Bread. She highlighted several things on the page. First, she highlighted the date, July 8th, my birthday. Second she placed her yellow marker on the title, which was about relationships. There were a couple of sentences under the yellow glow, “If a person dies in Christ and the relationship was bad, remember, with Christ all things become perfect. The relationship is perfected.”

Almost word for word, the article echoed what my mother told me in my vision. The article continued with a message to forgive and reading between the lines I knew I needed to unpack my emotional baggage. I was given a gift. She has been perfected, and I forgive her earthly mistakes. She is with Christ and as I unpacked my “mother didn’t love me” bags I knew she was with me. She is beautiful, radiant and full of light and love. Now she is mommy- and with me always. As for my baggage, I am down to a small carry-on size that fits in any normal overhead space!

 

 

 

Stepping Consciously

The Right Side of 50

These days step-families abound. Step-moms and dads and all of the kids in-between, who are connected by marriage, have to navigate the waters of family with more rules than usual. Unfortunately, those rules are often times left unwritten and these relationships hit major ice-bergs in icy seas of misunderstanding due to plain lack of caring and love. Blending a family is not as easy as placing the ingredients in your vita-mix and hitting start, resulting in a perfect, good-for-you concoction. Nope. It takes a lot more than that. In the process of blending a family, moms and dads should never ever walk away from their biological children and replace them or ignore them. Moving on never means moving away from our children. But I am guessing for too many, that behavior is the easiest. Since the subject is complex, my focus is on the children and their vulnerable hearts and…

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The Drama Pool

Every young girl has taken more than a few dips in the drama pool. Compared yet opposite to the spiritual awakening of the Ganges River, it is a ritual for our teen girls to go in and dip themselves like sacrifices to untruth; bathing in the pond of gossipy proliferation. Our male youth is not immune to the drama pool,however, their swims are less lengthy yet the gossip clings to them as heavily.

Fast forward to adulthood and there are those who truly understand the damage the spoken word can cause, be it true or not. God lets us know that the tongue is like a two-edged sword, and His people often use the edge most damaging in His name. There are many who never get out.

Gossip is the storm which causes so many to be swept up by the enticement of knowing something “juicy.” Gossip takes on a life of its own, and if some of the pieces are missing, they are then created to fit the picture perfectly, showing no doubt the story is true. I have experienced a whole town, small yet powerful, take a few items of information and turn on an individual like the town that came after Frankenstein: holding their torches high and chanting for his death. Or, like Little House on the Prairie, but with no denouement of Michael Landon’s character chastising the community from the church pulpit or school board meeting for their behaviors, resulting in hung heads and softened hearts. What I have witnessed is the opposite. The town wins and judgment and hatred rule the land which retreats after a victory then lies in waiting for the next attack.

I have been attacked recently, my character judged by a round table of those who have never once had a conversation with me, yet deemed me prejudiced and of unworthy character. I was mortified. How could ANYONE judge me and stamp me with a ruling which makes no sense? I was given the recommendation to introduce one of my accusers to my fiance which would really deflect, in his opinion, the unjust prejudice label, but stupid cannot be reasoned with, even with illustrated examples. Judging someone as prejudice is saying that person is full of hate and that hate is compartmentalized toward a race due to whatever reason. I may be a work in progress, but my progress in race relations is better than my accusers, and that is a fact. Do people not see that when they yell prejudice, they may just be blurting out their own shadowy belief system?

Lucky me to have been a part of a town whose residents (not all but a very vocal aspect) will think the worst of others due to what they hear from others. Am I naive? Maybe, but I honestly cannot come up with conclusions about people that are negative. Once I had a student in my class who was arrested for drug use and sent to re-habilitation. She came back and was a bright-eyed teenager who had life and seemed so happy. She told me she had been stoned every day in my class. “Couldn’t you tell” she asked? I replied honestly, “No, I thought you were not getting enough sleep, and possibly you were a bit depressed; not uncommon in teen girls.” I never go to the labels: drug abuser, liar, thief, philanderer, prejudice, first. I believe it is because I do not have these applications downloaded in my system and they are not there to access for blame.

I am learning to take the news that someone is lying, cheating, stealing with less of an affront on my psyche. I really want to live in peace, love and light. Because of that, I refuse to jade my belief system about others and use a negative source for how I perceive them. I am no saint in my perceptions. I do still stereotype, and I work on that. The difference I believe, is I am open to truth, and realize my eyes may deceive me. Close-minded, judgmental behavior is the epitome of stupid and also a state of complete self-UNAWARENESS. I am given a full body check when I step out of line with my behavior, with what I say and when messages I am transmitting to others is not healthy. I do sometimes fall in the drama-pool, and when I do, I am sickened. Healing waters of tears are sometimes needed to begin rebuilding my integrity.

Take the pledge to stay out the the drama-pool. Keep your tongue in check and if you are bothered by another’s actions which do not have anything to do with you, check yourself. Look around. Are you swimming in the truth or in the drama-pond? Look around, are you surrounded by those who make it easy to fall into the deep-end in denial of the truth and play with other’s lives as if it is a beach ball to be whacked from one person to the next: everyone getting their hands on the destruction of another’s life and name?

Get out, wipe your eyes and dull your tongue. Edification comes to those who edify. Getting life right means you are not in the drama-pool.

 

Death, Life and the Stuff In-between

Betty And Charlie

Last week we laid a wonderful man to rest: my long-time partner’s father. What a man! He lived a great life which was reflected through all who came to report they loved him and will miss him. He was a tough father to a brood of six children, known for free use of a rope and belt. None of his kids are worse for the wear due to their worn behinds as children. They are wonderful people, who really loved their dad. The week-long goodbye was hard, but after a long illness, this husband, father, brother and friend had had enough. He died in his sleep, next to his wife of 60 years. A finality most the family never experienced on such an intimate level. The sadness of his passing turned to laughter as the day went on, and true love of another human being gone permeated where they gathered.

Only in his last years did he complain, and five years ago he told me at the dinner table that he had five years left. I noted what he said as I am a true believer that we manifest and bring into our lives that which we believe. He was once a very strong man both physically and mentally. He built his homes with his own hands and with the help of his wife and later his boys. I wondered and often discussed with him how it felt to live in a home where he knew it from the foundation to each tile we stepped on. He was proud of his home, sure, but his home was an essence of him; of what he did in this life, which was build, creating space for his familys’ energy. A master of his domain!

Noted were his traits during this week of goodbyes. He loved his family and controlled as best he could, their upbringing. A plethora of stories exist about this father, not one beginning or ending with “he wasn’t there” or “didn’t care.” He was in the game. He loved to laugh and was a jokester. His passing elicited a desire to celebrate him and laugh for his life. What joy there was in this week to listen to stories and hear the loud and almost constant laughter when discussing his life. He was proud and his pride was his home, family, service and friends. The stuff that gives life its blood, its flow.  I do not think he read one self-help book that told him how to love his family or create joy in his life. He did it as choice every day his health was on his side. He knew what he had done here in this life. He knew  it solemnly and with joy. The last chapter of any book I have ever read on how to get life right. He was a friend and great listener, present in every conversation he had with someone. I can attest he knew so much about people it blew my mind. He remembered names, schools, jobs, where they lived, who they married, names of their kids…the list goes on. I wonder now if he was gifted with the mind that didn’t forget, or he learned the trick of being present when speaking with someone to the point that the connection was complete. A true transference of information! Evident in those whose lives he touched just by speaking with them, sharing a moment and maybe a beer.

He once asked me if I had read all of the books on my shelves. I proudly replied that I had, and he seemed impressed which made me happy. Now I think he was the example in so many of those books about life. He was not drawn to the study of happiness like I am, he had it. I am thankful for knowing Carlos “Charlie” Guzman. We all need examples to emulate while here on earth. Maybe in the future I will let my enough be enough, laugh out-loud without questioning if my joy is bothering another, truly embrace each moment with my friends and family, and never apologize for my life to anyone.

By the end of the week we were all very tired, and as goodbyes to our loved ones end, the sadness creeps in. The reality of never being able to see, call or hug them sets in, hard. But this week had a surprise and happy ending. A baby is going to be born, due in about 8 months around Charlie’s birthday. A new soul is coming. A new beautiful addition to the family. We cried again. We laughed again. We shared joy again.

Life is made of this stuff. The comings and goings. And all we create in-beween.